Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Ben Tonooka Interview
Narrator: Ben Tonooka
Interviewer: Martha Nakagawa
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: February 6, 2012
Densho ID: denshovh-tben-01-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

MN: Today is Monday, February 6, 2012. We will be interviewing Ben Yukio Tonooka at the Centenary United Methodist Church. Tani Ikeda is on the video, and I will be interviewing. My name is Martha Nakagawa. So Ben, let's start with your father's name.

BT: My father's name is Kazuichi.

MN: Which town and prefecture was your father from?

BT: Fukawa, Hiroshima.

MN: Now, can you share a little bit about your father's early years, such as what year he came to the United States, how old was he, and where did he land?

BT: Yeah. He landed in San Francisco in 1904. He was seventeen years old. And then on his passport it says that he had an uncle in Fowler, but I don't know, I can't verify that. So he ended up in Fowler.

MN: And then I guess he must've earned enough, and then he went back to Japan for a bride?

BT: Yes. That part, I can't find any information when he went back to Japan, but yeah, he married my mother in 1919.

MN: So let me ask a little bit about your mother. What is her name?

BT: Chiyoko Sasaki.

MN: And which town and prefecture is your mother from?

BT: Kure, K-U-R-E, Hiroshima.

MN: And then when did your mother and father come back to the United States?

BT: Yeah, 1919.

MN: Do you remember what ship they were on?

BT: No.

MN: And where did they land?

BT: San Francisco. They left from Yokohama, I remember that. But I don't remember the name of the ship.

MN: Shinyo Maru.

BT: Hmm?

MN: Shinyo Maru. Does that sound right?

BT: It's some kind of "maru." [Laughs]

MN: Did they have to go through Angel Island?

BT: No.

MN: Now, once they landed in San Francisco, where did they go?

BT: They went, as far as I know, they went straight to Fowler.

MN: And what did they do in Fowler?

BT: My father was a farm laborer, and they stayed in a boarding house.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.